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Morning with WJZ-TV

Online registration is closed! Please register onsite.

Join us on Thursday, October 4 at Baltimore’s CBS affiliate, WJZ-TV, to learn how to best work with the station’s newsroom, public affairs, and digital staff to get your stories told!  Attendees will also hear about the station’s recent studio and graphics makeover and see the new set with a VIP tour.

Expected to participate in the panel discussion are:

  • Susan Otradovec, Public Affairs Manager & ON AIR Executive Producer
  • Pete Amorgeanos, Assistant News Assignment Desk Manager
  • Rebecca Gebhard, Director of Marketing & Development
  • Audra Swain, Vice President & General Manager
  • Tanya Black, News Assignment Manager
  • Sonia Dasgupta, Manager of Digital Content

8:00 a.m. – 8:30 a.m.: Registration/networking/coffee
8:30 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.: Program immediately followed by tour of new studio

3725 Malden Avenue, Baltimore, Maryland 21211
Free parking in front of the building.

Investment: PRSA members $20; Guests $35

Fee includes light breakfast courtesy of …


Tips for writing an effective press release

Written and Submitted by Gabriel Chapman, Business Wire

Almost every PR and marketing professional has crafted a press release at some point. While the main goal of generating attention and coverage for your desired audience has not changed, methods for optimizing the release for the best chance of coverage are always updating. Here are some quick tips to remember when crafting and distributing your next release:

Write a clear, concise headline that is no more than 70 characters long

Writing a compelling press release headline for a human, not a search engine is crucial. The headline is often the deciding factor in whether the reader will click on your release or not. The goal is to entice the reader to click on the headline, read the release, and share your content across their social channels. Avoid concentrating on SEO keywords and focus on concise writing that reinforces the theme and relevance to your story.

Place descriptive information in the first paragraph

The first paragraph of the press release is the most important. Think of this space as your opportunity to state a bold point that captures the reader’s attention. Most recipients only see the headline and first sentence of your press release so make it count. The press release that anticipates questions that reporters and readers will be the most effective.

Focus on link quality over link quantity

The main focus of links within a press release is to enhance the user experience with the ultimate goal of getting shared. With the recent changes, Google does not positively weigh links within your press release in its search engine anymore. What they, and other search engines do, is react positively when links are shared or included in third-party references to your content. The search engines deem your release successful and boost its ranking when it generates news coverage, blog posts and social media sharing. Make sure you include quality links that have a call-to-action that makes the reader want to share your content (links to your website, blog, and other social media outlets). Remember, links in a press release will not help SEO unless people find them useful.

Always Include Multimedia

For your press release to rank well in search results, as well as engage users, it is essential to include multimedia. The search engines weigh multimedia differently than text based releases, and with the proliferation of smart phones and tablet devices, they’re making this an SEO necessity in 2015. Including compelling imagery in your press release improves the likelihood of achieving a positive response and pickup by journalists, analysts and consumers.

Use Social Media strategically to your audience

Nearly every organization uses at least one form of social media in 2015 and this is no longer optional for including in an effective press release. Search engines are now weighing social engagement in their search algorithms. The best strategy is to listen where your target audience is having a conversation online and build a strong presence on that particular social media platform (Twitter, FB, Linkedin, Pinterest, etc). Remember, this strategy takes time, but it is an essential way to communicate with an audience that’s interested in your news.

*BONUS Tip- A great way to build better relationships with key reporters and bloggers is to share their coverage on your social media outlets to increase traffic to your news.

Finally, think of your press release as a term paper being evaluated by the search engines. The more of these tips you include, the better your release with perform in the search rankings. Good writing is still the key to any effective release. Content sharing is huge, and if you can produce content that answers people’s questions, then you’re on the right track.



April’s Virtual Meeting “We want to be out there!” Recap

We launched our monthly virtual Brown Bag Lunch series on April 8 in an attempt to answer two simple (or not so simple) questions – where is out there and, more specifically, how do you get out there?

To find some answers, we picked the mind of industry veteran and PRSA-MD member, David Harrison of Harrison Communications.

Listen to full discussion!



David began by explaining that “out there” is not so simple any more. While it was once a finite universe of tradition media (e.g., print, TV, radio), it is now a growing infinite universe crossing a spectrum of print, digital, online, videos etc. So the first step in determining where you need to be is to define your audience: who are they, what are they reading, and where they reside in this infinite universe.  Once you find it, the key to spreading your message—aka creating the buzz—is finding content that will resonate with your audience.

“Success in public relations is not driven by what you want to say,” David says, “It is driven by what people want to hear and what people want to see.” Success then is understanding how to deliver your message in the context of what people are interested in.

So what do people want to hear and see? People want…

♦ To make/save money. Show people how to do either and they will listen.
♦ To trust. You must be trustworthy for your message to be compelling so make trust part of the communication plan.
♦ Things to be easier. Think NetFlix.
♦ To be motivated. People are interested in seeing and learning how others succeed.
♦ To be inspired. Inspiration drives people to learn more and share more.
♦ To be entertained.
♦ To laugh.
♦ To be the first to know. People like feel included and special.
♦ To be recognized/validated. People want to be seen and heard.
♦ To help. Give people the opportunity to help and your message will be heard.

Hear more from David including great examples of each tip in action by listening to full discussion above

Our next virtual Brown Bag is scheduled for Tuesday, May 13, 2014 12:30p1p. Join us for a quick chat where you’ll gain new tips right from the comfort of your office, home or even car! More info coming soon!

Have a topic you’d like to learn more about? Or a topic you’d like to present? Send us an email.

State of PR – 3/25/14 Recap

Despite the threat of snow looming in the skies over Baltimore, the State of PR panel went off without a hitch. The panel consisted of veteran PR pros Jeffrey Davis, APR of Sawmill Marketing and Judith Phair, APR, Fellow PRSA of PhairAdvantage, and was moderated by another veteran Harry Bosk, APR of The Write Image. It was a great discussion with plenty of participation from the audience. Two of the biggest takeaways are

PR is not dead! Although the tools of PR have changed, the fundamentals – the core – of PR is the same (e.g., relationship building, strategic planning, crisis communications, media relations).
Ethics is an area where PR pros and PRSA can and should take the lead. This is especially true in this digital age where control and accuracy of information is a challenge.

Other tips included:

State of PR PanelOn client relations…
• Be upfront with clients to manage their expectations on media placement. It’s unethical to make unrealistic commitments.
• Conduct media relations training with clients.
• Develop a crisis communications plan including generic tweets that communicate but don’t give out specific information. Always be sure to only give out what you have, not what you believe, i.e., don’t give out information that you can’t confirm.

On technology…
• Technology is opening new opportunities. You can now be exactly where your audience is.
• It’s not enough to know how to do social media; you need to know what to do to make it most effective.
• Listen before engaging. Find the needs. Also know – and understand – your audience
• Personal contact is still number one.

On media relations…
• Contact media via Twitter – use the DM option. More effective than emails.
• When working with media, PR professionals must be accessible and prepared to respond immediately.

The Panel also talked about the importance of following thought leaders and relevant media as well as reading and consuming news every day. They each shared their go-to reading lists…

Jeff Davis

I mentioned the For Immediate Release network of podcasts as my go-to “secret” source for keeping up with social media. Also, Scott Monty, head of social media for Ford, is a great source. And Christopher Penn has an excellent newsletter to keep you on top of what’s happening in PR and social media (and more):  

Judy Phair

In addition to several daily newspapers, including the Financial Times for a more global news perspective, I get daily feeds from the Public Relations and Communications Professionals group on LinkedIn and subscribe to a variety of specialized daily news and news trends lists from various sources;

Since many of my clients are in the education arena, I find Inside Higher Ed, an online newsletter published daily, a great source. You can subscribe here for the daily feed.

I also subscribe to the daily InVocus Media Articles Blog.  Contact InVocus Media Blog Articles sbenson@vocus.com to get information on subscribing. I should also add that InVocus Media Articles blog is filled with news of media staff changes, new assignments, etc. – critical stuff!

And daily postings from Poynter Institute – great stuff on what’s going on in the media business. You can contact Poynter Institute at newsletters@newsletters.poynter.org.

Harry Bosk

“Reputation: Realizing Value from the Corporate Image” by Charles J. Fombrun, Harvard University Press. It’s an old book but the principles still apply.

PRSA-MD’s Meet the Media Event

PRSA-MD June 2012 Event - Meet the Media

PRSA-MD June 2012 Event – Meet the Media

PRSA-MD’s Meet the Media Event was a success thanks to our moderator Bill Atkinson from Weber Shandwick, and panelists (shown from left to right: David London (What Weekly – @WhatWeekly), Katherine Gorman (WYPR – @kgorman), Danny Jacobs (The Daily Record –  @TDRDanny), Laura Smitherman (The Baltimore Sun – @lsmitherman), and Chris Daley (Maroon PR – @ChrisDaley43).

There was lively discussion all around as panelists shared their insights on how to best leverage traditional media in the Social Media Age.  For the most part, all said they use social media to engage readers, encourage sharing, and drive traffic.  Some of the takeaways on how to formulate and build relationships with journalists are:

(1) Personalize Communications: Instead of just pitching via e-mail blasts, phone them (or leave a quick voicemail) to draw their attention to a story idea; make sure your story idea is the best possible fit with the beat/subject areas they are covering.  Don’t use the generic words “PRESS RELEASE” in the subject line — it’ll get ignored instantly!

(2) Treat journalists like real people.  If you’ve met or worked together before, remind them in the message so they’ll have a point of reference for who you are.  This goes a long way — especially if you’ve previously helped them out in a pinch.

(3) Take it to the next level!  PR pros that get the best results have deep relationships with the journalists they assist.  There are many ways to raise your profile.  One suggestion made was to take reporters out to lunch.  Keep in touch by sending them a “how are you” message every once in awhile (e.g. holiday card).

The biggest lesson here is to focus on personalized, “high touch” communication and phase out or minimize the mass communication approach.  The more, the better!

–Industry News